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Insecurity, substandard properties, and rights and responsibilities are among the problems which are letting down the private rental sector, according to a damning Which? report. The far-reaching study shows a wide range of issues which are adversely affecting the rental sector. Both tenants and some landlords had a lack of knowledge about their rights and responsibilities while, for some, letting agents were also failing to pass on the relevant information.

With around 50% of those renting at the moment believing they will also be renters for the next five years at least, Which? is calling for a fundamental shake-up of the private rental sector. Not only are many people going to be long-term tenants, but more people are likely to be going to join them, as property prices remain out of reach of many workers. The rental sector will be accommodating even more people in the UK in the future. It is imperative that something is done now, to make improvements sooner rather than later. Which? wants all landlords to have to register with local authorities and for this information to be publicly available on a database which could be linked to the register of rogue landlords and agents set up earlier this year.

The consumer organisation is also backing the idea for an independent regulator to be set up with a legally-binding code of practice for letting agents and property management companies. It is calling on the government to review the eviction procedure to cut unnecessary delays for landlords after repossession has been agreed. Furthermore, it wants tenancy agreements set up by letting agents to be reviewed to see how widespread the use of inaccurate or misleading terms is. If it is found to be widespread, this could lead to further action such as an investigation.

Rocio Concha, Which? chief economist, said the rental sector has failed to keep up with the changes in society which have turned long-term renting into a reality for millions of people, rather than a stepping stone towards home ownership. It wants the government to tackle the problems highlighted in its report. Millennials seem to be the most vulnerable group as far as problems are concerned. Nearly one in seven millennials have had problems with letting agents. They are also more likely than tenants aged 38 or above to report poor accommodation. More worryingly, one in five said they were not handed a written tenancy agreement after moving in. Families are another concern. Families with children are making up a larger proportion of tenants, but many are fearful of losing their homes because of insecure tenancies.

Many tenants, around eight in 10, have also had problems with the accommodation itself, citing damp or mould as the most common problems. Condensation, draughts and plumbing problems are also high on their list. Because of this, 45% of tenants have either carried out repairs, paid for them or ordered them, with 27% saying they did this to avoid any problems with their landlords.

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